Teens Cut Their Summer Vacation Short- to Fix Homes



According to a study conducted by Child Trends, more than 33% of high school seniors report they volunteer at least once a month


June 23, 2017


ARLINGTON, Va. – More than 800 teenagers from throughout the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will serve the underprivileged in nine northern and central Virginia counties during WorkCamp 2017, June 24-30.  The teenagers will focus on projects designed to make homes safer and drier. This year’s 190 projects include everything from building a wheelchair ramp for a 60-year-old disabled man who has not left his house in 17 years, to installing windows and sealing the roof at the home of a single mother of three.   


“WorkCamp really had a huge impact on my faith journey. It was one of the best weeks of my life,” says 18-year-old Pablo Badia of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Herndon.  This is his second WorkCamp. “I am very lucky to have the opportunity to attend WorkCamp once again to deepen my relationship with Christ before I head off to Mount St. Mary's University this August.”


According to a study conducted by Child Trends, more than a third of high school seniors report they volunteer at least once a month.  The study also says volunteering in adolescence is associated with positive outcomes during the teen years, and associated with the development of greater respect for others, leadership skills, and an understanding of citizenship that can carry over into adulthood.


First-timer 17-year-old Anthony Thomas from St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church says, "I am excited for WorkCamp because I will have the opportunity to learn home repair skills while simultaneously helping those in need in our community.”


“These high schoolers have many other things they can do for a week of their summer break, but instead they have chosen to skip the beach, leave their cell phone at home, and perform physical labor in the hot sun as a way to show their love to the less fortunate within their community,” explained Kevin Bohli, diocesan Director of the Office Youth Ministry, which organizes WorkCamp.  What’s more, Bohli says each teenager raised more than $500 to work on somebody’s house and learned the necessary skills during the school year.


This will be WorkCamp’s 29th year sponsored by the Diocese of Arlington's Office of Youth Ministry.  The week-long experience—based out of Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg—will also include daily Mass, an evening program complete with music and talks to help the young people reflect upon the experience, and other high-energy activities for the youth and adult leaders.


“These teens inspire us to love, to serve our neighbor - especially those in need,” says Bishop Michael F. Burbidge.